Ashamed and Shameless


Without a sense of how to become free from shame, we’re living in a culture settling for shamelessness instead. It’s a poor substitute.

To be shame-free means shame no longer has any hold on you—it doesn’t interfere with how you hear others, doesn’t muddy your relationships, doesn’t challenge the decisions you need to make, doesn’t shape the way you perceive yourself, and doesn’t influence how you see God.

To be shameless on the other hand means to live without a sense of shame—it means trying to buck the way shame makes you feel. Because this doesn’t get rid of shame itself, shame still sways your life, your relationships, and your sense of yourself.

Far from being free of shame’s influence, when we’re embracing shamelessness, we’re like speeding drivers who, upon seeing police lights behind them, drive even faster to shake the police and avoid a ticket.

Shamelessness is not an antidote for shame.

But there’s an alternate problem among those who recognize shamelessness as a problem. In response to shamelessness in others or themselves, many default to peddling shame—pointing fingers at others and/or drinking deep of their own shame.

But just as shamelessness is not an antidote to shame, neither is shame an antidote to shamelessness.

Jesus on the cross is the remedy for both. Through the chaos of the shamed and shameless, Jesus sees people in bondage to shame and its roots. And from the cross, cries out, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

For their sakes (for all of ours), Jesus . . .

  • was abandoned by those who said they loved him
  • was stripped naked and exposed in front of everyone
  • was accused, mocked, ridiculed, laughed at
  • became filthy—unrighteousness itself—for all to see

(Which of these doesn’t express how shame feels?)

Is your soul weighed down in shame? Is your conscience seared and shameless? Come to the cross. Rest as you watch the police lights pass you by. Behold the man who is your remedy.

“[Jesus] endured the cross, despising the shame . . .” (Hebrews 12:2b)

Share your comments: What do you think about the idea that we try to deal with shame by pursuing shamelessness. Where do you see this around you or in your own life?

Choosing rest,

Thanks For Reading.

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  • There’s a great book on this called “The Shame Exchange ” published by NaviPress. It is by two couples – the Breedloves and the Ennises.

  • Josh – I very much appreciate your deeply spiritual and Christ centered comments. I’m sure that Jesus on the cross is the answer for our sense of shame. But, I’d like some more specific comments on the “How” we deal with shame. What does it mean to “come to the cross?” How do we do this? This phrase sounds like a Christian buzz word to me. Can you put this in simple, concrete language? Thanks very much.

    • Stephen – thanks for your question and I apologize for my delay in replying (I was out of town all last week). Great question, by the way.

      I don’t have one answer for how we deal with shame or how we come to the cross, but let me give you two ideas:

      First, ask Jesus the same question you’re asking me. “Jesus, your cross was for me? How do I come and access all you’ve done for me there?” Keep asking. And keep listening. See what He says, and then let me know (I have lots to learn, too!)

      Second, Practice imagining yourself at the cross. By “imagine” I don’t mean dream up something that isn’t real (like perhaps you have in fantasy or fear); I mean use your imagination, which God’s given you for good, to envision what is true. All that Christ did on the cross He did for you. Through baptism, you were joined with Him in His death, so in a supernatural way, you were/are there with Him. See yourself there.

      As you pray, when you confess, when you worship, when you take communion, when you’re tempted, when doubt or shame weighs heavy on you, imagine yourself at the cross. Ask Jesus to meet you there.

      Any chance you’ve got a church or ministry (Regeneration maybe?) in your area that offers a group like Living Waters? For me, that’s how the cross became more than an event in history long ago.

      Does this help?
      In Christ,

  • Ever since I was a young boy I felt the need to be naked. It felt good to feel the fresh air against my skin. I’ve struggled with my nakedness all my life as I was led to believe throughout my life that it’s wrong to be naked. Now that I’ve been diagnosed and deal with cancer that can’t be cured I find myself struggling with wearing clothes. The feeling of them against me makes me feel like I’m being suffocated. As if my body cannot breath. I’ve spent many hours talking to God about this and I feel as though it’s ok with Him as I don’t feel shame in being naked. What can I do.? What should I do? How can I continue to feel free without offending others?

    • Hi Matthew – I’m sorry to hear about your cancer. That must be very difficult. In answer to your question, without knowing more about you and your specific situation, it’s difficult to offer a wholly helpful reply. For example, I can’t tell if the feeling that clothing is suffocating you may be related to something medical, psychological, or simply some part of you longing for the original “very good” for which God designed you. If you can, I would recommend speaking with a trusted friend, pastor, etc. for their perspective.
      With this said, on a baseline level, I see no problem with you enjoying being naked alone while in the privacy of your own home (or room). When around others, though, it seems love of others would call for choosing to be clothed for the sake of others’ consciences. (I think here of Paul’s willingness to abstain from meat for the sake of others in 1 Corinthians 8, for example.) Also, I wonder if there might be modest but lighter or looser clothing that would feel less constricting to you?
      I hope this is at least a little bit helpful! Please reach out to one of our coaches if you’d like to discuss this more in depth.

By Josh Glaser

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